Did you think teaching was just knowing your content and classroom management?

As an 18-year teaching veteran, I've found teaching to be an incredibly rewarding profession. But it comes with challenges. Some common misconceptions about teaching add to the challenge.

Do you know what your emotional triggers are when interacting with students in stressful situations?

High school class going crazy

Do you dwell on your mistakes at the end of each day?

Timon (the meerkat) is telling Simba (the cub) in the movie clip, the Lion King

Learning how to manage your emotions and embrace your mistakes will help you to become more confident in yourself and your students.

Misconception #1: Teachers aren't allowed to have feelings

Before I become a teacher, I wish I'd known that certain classroom behaviors would be emotional triggers for me.

Someone pressing a red panic button.

If many students weren't listening, I'd get upset and think "I'm not good enough!"

A person saying the words If we recognize this mind talk (that internal conversation you have with yourself), then we can do something about it.

Here are some strategies for teachers to deal with negative mind talk:

  • Exercise — creates endorphins in the body that clear your head

  • Journaling — writing your thoughts out is almost as good as exercise

  • Collaboration — working with others helps you understand that you're not alone

  • Check out more mind talk solutions


Many of your students didn't pass the midterm exam. You suspect it's because they haven't been listening in class. You notice you're telling yourself, "I'm not good enough to teach this class." What can you say instead? Select all that apply.

Misconception #2: Students will always cooperate

In a typical classroom, students are learning what the rules are and pushing them to see where the boundaries lie.

A person saying

Typical rules that students break:

  • Not following instructions

  • Doing something "wrong" that wasn't intended

  • Talking when the teacher is talking

Learn reasons why kids break the rules.

What can you do when you start to doubt your capabilities to exert authority?

A person in deep thought? Photo by Darius Bashar on Unsplash

In my experience, I found that it's best to stop and check in with myself on student behavior before taking action.

One particular student who I thought was being disruptive was actually trying to clarify something I said with another student. We forget that not every student understands what we're saying.


You're upset after class that many of the students weren't listening. What can you do to manage this feeling in a positive way?

Misconception #3: You have to be perfect at all times

You're going to make mistakes, potentially a lot of them. Here's how to deal with them:

  1. Wait until after you get home and are alone.

  2. Write for 15-20 minutes focusing on your deepest emotions about one mistake you made while teaching.

    Warning: you may feel sad after writing, though this goes away after a few hours.

A series of Scrabble tiles that read

The book Opening Up by Writing it Down by James Pennebaker & Josh Smyth has more details on how to make note of your experiences. This article summarizes the book.

  1. Forgive yourself! Without this step, you'll continue to be upset, putting you in a negative frame of mind for the next time this happens.

Take Action

Understanding yourself and what situations will trigger your emotional hot buttons will make you an outstanding teacher.

Happy teacher standing at the front of a classroom Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

Practice this strategy to help make you an outstanding teacher:


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